Visually Elusive Textual Illusions

“The relation between words and images is an extraordinarily ancient problem in the study of the arts and in theories of rhetoric, communication, and human subjectivity.”[1]

To begin, it would be wise to identity the dissimilarity between the terms “word” and “image”. What is a word? What is an image? Simply put a “word” is a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing. While on the other hand, an “image” is a representation of the external form of a person or thing in sculpture, painting, etc.

But what makes a word and an image different from one another? One might say that a word is a group of letters, characters, or symbols belonging to a specific language while an image is an interpreted visual representation of an event or events. However, it could then be easily argued that words themselves are visual representations of events. Thus, in actuality, words and images would be considered the same. “The domains of word and image are like two countries that speak different languages but that have a long history of mutual migration, cultural exchange, and other forms of intercourse.”[2]

“Resemblance is one kind of similitude, namely, similitude of appearance. The resembling sign may be stylized and abstracted away from visual surfaces and detail in various ways, but it has to “look like” the object it represents.”[3]

Image Phenomena

This image visually is an illusion. Describing it with words to another person would be nigh on impossible. The imagery itself; however, “says” everything it needs to without any words at all. The human perception is easily able to identify what this image is visually, trying to represent it with words would be an entirely different (difficult) story.

“Words and pictures together are considered, at best, a diversion for the masses, at worst, a product of crass commercialism.”[4]


[1] Mitchell, W. J. T. “Mitchell, “Word and Image.”” Mitchell, “Word and Image.” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013. <;.

[2] Mitchell, W. J. T. “Mitchell, “Word and Image.”” Mitchell, “Word and Image.” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013. <;.

[3] Magritte, Rene. “Words in Images: Magritte.” Words in Images: Magritte. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013. <;.

[4] McCloud, Scott. “Understanding Comics.” Understanding Comics. Harper Perennial, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2013. <;.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s